We That Are Young by Preti Taneja
On the evening of the 20th June The Winner of the 2018 Desmond Elliot Prize was announced in front of a packed invited audience with many more following via social media. This year’s winner was incredible We That Are Young (Galley Beggar Press) the debut novel by Preti Taneja set to the backdrop of contemporary India but this is no ordinary story but one with Shakespeare’s King Lear at its heart.
Weighing in at over 500 pages this is by no means your average novel yet once I turned the first page I found this brave yet impressive story about modern India and its take on the country its inter family battles. I was all consumed and breathless by the time I had reached the last page. This indeed is a compelling debut novel and Taneja’s writing makes her a writer to watch for the future.
Indeed, with King Lear in mind Preti Taneja set about writing this incredible novel. There are the two India’s the extreme poverty and the very wealthy as well as the political machinations and cultures and of course corruption and scandal.
Jivan is returning to India. He has been living in the USA with his mother since the age of thirteen. Now years later the India he remembers has changed. The country has grown and with it has come wealth. But not for all. The years have passed and Sita is facing a marriage she does not want or wish for and she does not conform to her father’s wishes and traditions. She disappears. Devraj hands over the reins to ‘the Company’ to his two older daughters Gargi and Radha. Set to the backdrop of the anti-corruption riots of 2012 what takes place now is nothing short of brutal. The Company has fingers in so many industries and government officials and institutions that it is difficult to know where it begins and ends. It is of course who you know that gets you places and doors appear to open when they remain closed to the many. The story of Gargi and Radha is incredibly written by Taneja and how they become involved in the Company and what becomes of them both. This at times is both moving and painful.
When you want the best of both worlds there is always a collision of ideals, when you embrace change and the riches that come with it yet on the other hand you want the old culture of love and obedience something has to give. With many living in poverty and a minority enjoying the trappings of wealth. Change must come despite those that are determined to continue the traditions from generations past.
There is much to behold in this powerful story. You will hear from all the leading characters as they strive for more riches. Yet close by the extreme opposite. Many fighting hand to mouth to survive. There is so much contained within this all-consuming novel, the wealth and poverty and corruption that runs through India like a tradition. Superbly constructed I was riveted by We That Are Young and this is one book I really recommend.
Many congratulations to Preti Taneja on winning the Desmond Elliot Prize 2018 with We That Are Young.
The Desmond Elliot Prize is an annual prize for a first novel written in English and is published in the UK with a prize of £10,000 awarded to the winning author. Named after the literary agent and publisher Desmond Elliot.
Thank you to the Desmond Elliot Prize for the copy of We That Are Young by Preti Taneja
We That Are Young by Preti Taneja was published by Galley Beggar Press and was published on 10th August 2017 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.